While yet unable to train with his new teammates marquee Knights signing Trent Hodkinson has rated his chances of making his Auckland Nines debut in 2016 as "50-50".
A dislocated wrist suffered by the former Bulldog late in the regular season – coincidentally on Newcastle's Old Boys Day – has seen Hodkinson restricted to conditioning and speed work with the main squad.
From all reports new coach Nathan Brown's initial focus has been defence, meaning Hodkinson duties have ultimately been restrictive in his first pre-season as a Novocastrian.
"It has been frustrating having gone to a new club. You're keen to be out there straight away in these instances and dig in deep with your new teammates but I'm gradually getting there now," Hodkinson told NRL.com.
"[Defensively] I've been there and watching it at training behind the line and in video sessions, I just haven't been running with them.
"It's the defence I've been used to being involved in anyways so that aspect is going well so far and the boys are doing well and picking up on things which Browny's brought on board."
Hodkinson was confident the ongoing management of his troublesome knee won't factor into whether Brown picks him in the Knights' Nines squad or not – his wrist being the prime focus of recovery.
"Earlier on in the pre-season [the knee] gets a little bit tender because you haven't run on it for a while and it did for the first couple of weeks but ever since it's been great," he said.
"I've had no dramas with it and while it can be quite frustrating at the start, it went away pretty quickly. The body overall is pretty good, it's just a matter of getting the wrist right now."
Hodkinson added the Nines should prove a vital opportunity to link up with halves partner Jarrod Mullen for the first time.
With the duo two of the favourites to take over the club captaincy following the departure of Knights legend Kurt Gidley, it will also provide an enticing battle of friendly fire proportions.
"Any opportunity to build combinations is a bonus so if we can do that over in Auckland at the Nines it'll be great for us moving forward," Hodkinson said.
"I've sat at home both years and the atmosphere looks unbelievable so hopefully one day I can [play at the Nines], and hopefully it's 2016."